He Fades Away* by Alistair Hulett

There’s a man in my bed I used to love him
His kisses used to take my breath away
There’s a man in my bed I hardly know him
I wipe his face and hold his hand
And watch him as he slowly fades away

And he fades away
Not like leaves that fall in autumn
Turning gold against the grey
He fades away
Like the bloodstains on the pillow case
That I wash every day
He fades away

There’s a man in my bed, he’s on a pension
Although he’s only fifty years of age
The lawyer says we might get compensation
In the course of due procedure
But he couldn’t say for certain at this stage

And he’s not the only one
Who made that trip so many years ago
To work the Wittenoom mines
So many young men old before their time
And dying slow
He fades away
A wheezing bag of bones his
Lungs half clogged and full of clay
He fades away

There’s a man in my bed they never told him
The cost of bringing home his weekly pay
And when the courts decide how much they owe him
How will he spend his money
When he lies in bed and coughs his life away?

*This song is about an Australian blue asbestos miner. The miners (and often their families) were exposed to blue asbestos through the mine at Wittenoom in Western Australia and had a long and very bitter legal battle for compensation with many miners (and their family members) dying of the effects of the asbestos exposure (specifically mesothelioma) before receiving compensation. Wittenoom itself is a declared contaminated site and was phased out as a townsite, being removed from road signs and maps, in the 1990s. As of 2019, there was only one remaining permanent resident.

From: https://unionsong.com/u484.html

Date: 1991

By: Alistair Hulett (1951-2010)

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